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Trace Metals Unit - Fish Testing

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Information on Fish Testing

The presence of persistent toxic substances (PTS) in aquatic ecosystems is one of the most important environmental policy issues currently facing the Great Lakes States.  Contaminated fish are the primary source of chemical exposure to most humans and thus are the cause of fish consumption advisories.  The MDHHS works in conjunction with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) on the Michigan Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program (FCMP) to assess the chemical contamination in fish from the state's surface waters.  The data generated is used to determine whether fish from waters of the state are safe for human and wildlife consumption, and as a surrogate measure of bio accumulative contaminants in surface water.

The Trace Metals Unit tests homogenized fish tissue samples for mercury (organic and inorganic), selenium, nickel, vanadium, and other metals upon request.  These testing methods are based on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) methods 200.11 and 7473.


The total mercury (organic and inorganic) is determined without chemical pretreatment using  thermal decomposition/atomic absorption spectrophotometry (TD/AA) technology. For all other fish metal analysis, the laboratory analyzes homogenized fish samples using inductively coupled plasma triple mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). 

Sample Instructions

The technique used to collect fish must be free from contamination of metals.  Individual tissue samples should be taken from fresh not previously frozen fish and soon after the fish is collected.  If tissue cannot be taken immediately after collection, each fish should be placed in a plastic bag, sealed and placed on ice or refrigerated at 4°C.

Contact Us:

Comments or questions regarding test results or testing methods contact the Trace Metals Unit

Kelley Freed, Trace Metals Unit Manager
Phone: 517-335-8357


Keri Fisher, Analytical Chemistry Section Manager
Phone: 517-335-9489 

Related Information:

Michigan Fish and Game Advisory

DEQ Fish Contaminant

MDHHS Analytical Chemistry Section